Preliminary Online Catalogue of Ismaili manuscripts available online in

TitlePreliminary Online Catalogue of Ismaili manuscripts available online in
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsU.M.Edwards, Heritage Society
Keywordscatalog, Ismaili, Khojki, Manuscript
Full Text

"The past is a place to learn even if the future is different." - H.H. The Aga Khan - 2013, September 28


What is that special Ismaili manuscript collection in this library?

The Khojki Manuscripts Collection of the Ismaili Heritage Society is considered to be the second largest known Collection. Among the available collections, it is much larger than the Harvard University Khojki Collection - There are other institutional and private collections, but they are not available to the public. The Heritage Society has been searching and preserving Ismaili manuscripts from the subcontinent, East Africa and other regions since 1981. A further impetus came from the two SOS Khojki Conference in 1990 and 1991, since then it has continuously expanded its collection of Ismaili manuscripts. Years of continuous effort have resulted in one of the largest accessible collection of Khojki Satpanthi Ismaili manuscripts. The largest collection may be that of the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London where reportedly some 600 Khojki manuscripts and books were decontaminated and digitized with the help of National Conservation Service by 2015. These manuscripts and books have been digitized with the help of NCS and its strong team of conservators but their catalogued is been prepared and the collection is not yet accessible to the public.


The Indic part of the Heritage Society collection is presently composed of about 200+ original Khojki and Gujarati manuscripts, supplemented by 100 photocopies of Khojki manuscripts from private collections, 100 more manuscripts copied from institutional collection. In all, digitized copies of 400 manuscripts are available (except for some restricted manuscripts). A further collection of 500 Khojki and Gujarati printed book and litho related to Ismailism has also been digitized and included on the website. The Farsi collection is limited to few original Farsi manuscripts and photocopies.


Below are some interesting findings that have come to light while cataloguing:

• Several dozens of unknown/unpublished Ginans/Granths are part of the digitized collection.

• The largest Khojki manuscript of the Ismaili Heritage Society collection consists of 1,323 pages

• There are 7 original manuscripts with the seal of the Imam. The same seal of the Imam can be found in 3 special manuscripts, one written in Persian, and two written in Khojki with a page in Arabic.

• This collection has the only known Khojki manuscript containing the name of the author of the "Kalame Mowla".

• Early 1800s’ a manuscript was sent from Kutchh Jamat to Zanzibar (Jangbar) Jamat. This kind of notes found in the manuscript gives a possibility to complete the history of the manuscript and the settlement of the community in remote areas.

• One of the lesser known treasures of Khojki Documents is a publication in 1926 of the Pir Pandiyat e Jawanmardi, the Farmans of Mowlana Mustansir Billah, with the text written in Khojki Script. There is one script (Khojki) and there are two languages side by side: The first column gives the text of the Pandiyat in Farsi (Persian) language which is believed to be the original language in which the Farman was made. The adjacent column in right gives the text in Sindhi/Katchi translation. Pir Pandiyat-i Jawan-mardi is the only book given the title of PIR. These are the Farmans of Imam Mustansiribillah II - This books hold the law and guidance for the Ismaili Jamat.


The oldest manuscript in this collection:


Recently the Heritage Society received what appeared to be remaining 30 pages from an old and damaged manuscript preserved up to recently in the Juma Bhagat Family. This manuscript which has been given the number hs0439 is missing many pages has been damaged by termites. Visually it appeared to be 300 to 400 years old. A page of the manuscript was sent to the Radiochronology Lab of the Laval University in Canada for Carbon 14 dating. There are very few ways to date accurately manuscripts. Carbon 14 dating gives a percentage probability for a range of dates. A Carbon 14 report was received few days ago, jointly prepared by Laval University and the Keck Carbon Cycle AMS Facility of the University of California (USA) - While the median probable date of the sample taken from hs0439 is reported to be AD 1763, there is a 20% possibility according to the same report that this manuscript is written between AD 1670 and AD 1683. If this is the case, this manuscript would be older than the previous oldest hs0376 manuscript of the Heritage Society dated 1744 AD.

More Info

There is a large digitised collection of manuscripts and other documents and copies of hundreds of correspondences about Ismailis and about their Imam from French and British archives going back to the time when Aga Hassanali Shah was in Persia up to recent times, thus spanning the reign of 4 Aga Khans. This section will be opening later.


It is believed that more than 130 books were published in Khojki Script mostly under guidance of Mukhi Lalji Devraj in the early 1900s'. These books were published under the aegis of the then Recreation Club Institute at the Khoja Sindhi Printing Press on Dongri Street at Bhimpura in Mumbai. There are also specimens of books printed by lithography from late 1800s’.


While not all of the 135,000 pages which have been digitized from manuscripts and books have been yet uploaded in , more will be added here on a continuous basis and possibly completed in few months. There are few restricted manuscripts from this collection that cannot be consulted online but they can be made available for personal reading.


The Full Paper Catalogue is available in the attached PDF, just scroll down.


The advantage of an online catalogue is quite apparent:


As the collection increases and more information are entered, the catalogue gets updated automatically. This is a work in progress where the catalogue has not yet been formalized. Volunteers working on this site are updating and improving the catalogue regularly. There will be amelioration and systemisation in the coming months. The Library works with limited resources therefore the reader is asked to be patient for the never ending final catalogue.


Though there is some convenience to a paper catalogue, it can only contain an inventory of existing documents at the time of print. The same is valid for a PDF catalogue such as this one. These are becoming notion of the past. Today with the advances of technology and the need to easily search and find documents, the challenge is to come up with a system where the reader can access the catalogue updated in real time. Such catalogue would get updated each time a new document, book or manuscript is catalogued; even better, it would be updated each time an item from the catalogue is added. We believe we have addressed this challenge successfully and the result is our ever-updated online Dynamic Catalogue on this link:

Finally, the Library itself has various search possibility and several menus giving access to not only manuscripts but also an ever-growing digital collection of books and other documents.


Countless people have helped for decades in collecting, digitising and cataloguing this collection. It is not possible to name them and in any case complying with the tradition of anonymous service of the Ismaili Heritage Society, these names will forever remain unknown. If you would like to be part of the anonymous silent workers who are not looking for credit, please contact us.


More info: write to


First released online on 11 July 2022.

Preliminary Static Catalogue and final Dynamic Catalogue of Ismaili manuscripts available at the Heritage Society and on


Supporting doc: 


Heritage Society Collection at
Indian Languages
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